It’s probably a jersey any NFL receiver will want to have.
Chase has made a name for himself, recording 456 yards on just 23 catches -- the most receiving yards by a rookie wide receiver through the first five weeks in the Pro Football Focus era, which started in 2006. He leads the league with four catches of more than 40 yards, and he has touchdowns in each of his five games, including a 70-yarder Sunday just before halftime.
“I think what he did in college has really carried over,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “It’s winning one-on-ones, making plays on balls down the field even when the opportunities aren’t always there. He just has a great knack for judging the ball down the field, which not everybody does. He’s physical. He’s got really good hands. He’s got good scramble awareness to get in phase with Joe like you saw on the play at the end of the first half. He’s in great shape.
“Not every rookie that comes into the league is in that kind of shape. That’s one thing you notice. He’s playing a lot of snaps. We try to take care of him where we can, but he just goes and gives great effort. Even in the fourth quarter he’s catching those go balls and back shoulders and things like that. He’s everything we expected him to be and hoped to be and so far through five games that’s what we’ve seen from him.”
Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said last week he would like to see Chase getting 10-15 targets a game. On Sunday, Joe Burrow threw the ball his way 10 times, and Chase finished with 159 yards on six catches.
The former LSU wide receiver said he doesn’t have a number of targets in mind each game.
“I don’t how to answer that, honestly, because I’m just trying to play my role,” Chase said. “I know I’m a rookie and all, I’m just trying to play my role, and make this team go as I go. This is Joe’s team, I’m on Joe’s back, so I’m just here to play my role, make plays, and hopefully that’s making the team win, but I just want to play my role.”
There is no doubt Chase has been a game-changer for the Bengals, though, proving him worth that No. 5 overall draft pick.
Three of his touchdowns have been strikes right at the end of the first half, helping the Bengals build momentum for the second half. His 70-yard touchdown on Sunday was stunning. Burrow had 7.8 seconds to pick out his target and launched it down the field, where Darnell Savage whiffed trying to get a hand on it around the 25-yard line. Chase came down with it and ran it in for the touchdown.
Wide receiver Tyler Boyd said he can’t even think of any other players like Chase.
“He’s kind of a rare breed to me,” Boyd said. “That’s why we picked him up our first pick, fifth pick. I can see the talent. There’s not too many people on his level, so I think honestly, he’s got his own game. He kind of can do it all. He lets the game come to him.
“I think it’s his athleticism. ... He can take the top off, he can run any intermediate routes. The way he’s running is so smooth, and then like the way he runs routes it looks like he’s really moving without pads, so he’s ... got that extra gear.”
Cornerback Mike Hilton said he’s not surprised by anything Chase does. He’s been seeing that since training camp, when the outside was focused on Chase struggling with drops. Now his confidence level is rising and he’s getting better every game.
“Ever since his first touchdown his confidence has taken off,” Hilton said. “You can just tell over these five games he’s putting up great numbers for us and making a lot of plays for us and he’s a guy we definitely are going to lean on.”
Bengals at Lions, 1 p.m., Fox, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7